Horse vaulters gathered at the Nelson and District Riding Club in Blewett for the Kutenai Summer Fest on Saturday. The morning rain did not deter the young vaulters. Imagine a dancer or gymnast doing a dance routine but on a moving horse back, complete with poised limbs. That’s vaulting.
What compelled these vaulters to perform acrobatics on horse back?
Elisse Southam, 11 turning 12, said it’s like dancing but with a horse, plus it’s the teamwork with others that she likes.
For 12-year-old Gwen McCrory it’s working with the horses. She has been riding since she was two years old. Caitlyn Johnson, 12, from Thrumbs has been vaulting for three years and said, “I love how you’re doing different stuff on a horse, not just riding it.”
Naomi Lee, 11, said she likes everything about vaulting but there are differences with the horses. The Koot-Neigh team vaults with club director Naomi Weber’s three horses Quinn, Tessa and Azrael.
The girls explained the horses like the vaulters too but if there is thunder, it can spook the horses. Even though it was rainy and wet in the morning they said it was not a problem as when they are on the horses they are away from the mud. Plus they wear shoes with special grips on the soles.
The rest of their team uniforms include a regime similar to dancers and gymnasts. They must wear their hair in a bun with a scrunchy or if they wear a unitard, a hairpin may be used instead.
Koot-Neigh and Mountain Wind teams performed their compulsory rounds on the barrel for judge Colin Schmidt to their music selection.
In the afternoon, the freestyle evens saw the vaulters mount the horses for a lofty show.